Friday, December 07, 2012

Mystery and How it Gets that Way

"Our minds remain finite," writes Sheed, "and so can never wholly contain the infinite."

But this hardly means the infinite is completely unthinkable. Rather, the interpenetration of finite and infinite "accounts for the existence of what we call Mysteries in religion." Mystery is a term of art, not an evasion, much less an unseemly case of furiously deepaking one's chopra in public.

The Raccoon Glishary defines mystery as an orthoparadox, which, translated literally, means "straight-up freaky."

It is analogous to the complementarity principle in quantum physics. When the human mind attempts to visualize the quantum world, an irreducible paradox results in the form of a wave of vacuous new age books that nevertheless sell much better than mine.

Now, just because the quantum world is paradoxical, it doesn't mean you can't know anything about it. To put it inversely, if there is no Absolute, then man's stupidity is infinite, and I couldn't have sold even one copy.

A Mystery is not like "a high wall that we can neither see over nor get around," but rather, more like "a gallery into which we can progress deeper and deeper, though we can never reach the end -- yet every step of our progress is immeasurably satisfying."

Can we get an I-witness?

A Mystery is not a Keep Out! sign but "an invitation to the mind." There is an intrinsic attraction to them -- a subjective correlate to our being in the presence of the Great Attractor -- signaling our proximity to "an inexhaustible well of Truth from which the mind may drink and drink again in the certainty that the well will never run dry, that there will always be water for the mind's thirst."

(This goes directly to the transfinite and hyperdimensional "religious sense" we will soon be discussing, I'll bet.)

You know the wise crack, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink," and then "out of your heart will flow rivers of living water." Can we get a wetness? You bet! Especially those of you in the first few rows.

Again, as with the complementarity principle -- which is much more generalized than the average person realizes -- "any given Mystery resolves itself (for our minds, of course, not in its own reality) into two truths which which we cannot see how to reconcile."


Oh, I can think of any number of orthoparadoxes that arise just from the human condition, in which we are material animals with immaterial spirits.

Well, which one is it then? Animal or spirit? Christianity has always insisted that it is both. Indeed, this may be traced all the way back to Genesis, in which man is a lump of clay in-spired by the Breath of Life.

Any attempt to resolve this orthoparadox -- say, by insisting that man is fundamentally no different from any other animal -- results in a spiritual catastrophe.

At the other extreme is the attempt to "be as God," but the result is the same because the one reduces to the other. In other words, if there is no God, then man is Him, and vice versa.

Or think of how we have an essence that is nevertheless deployed in time, so that our being paradoxically "becomes," and the point of life is to become who you already are.

More generally, I think a bonedry conundrum can be elevated to a thirst-quenching Mystery if we merely invert the cosmos, and put it back right-side up.

If we truly understand that the cosmos is a tree with its nonlocal roots aloft and convenient local branches down below, we suddenly find ourselves "inside" the mystery, instead of being on the outside looking in, or just another prick in the wall.

Sheed mentions several religious mysteries, such as how it is that One can be Three, and vice versa; how Christ can have two natures in one person, or be all God and all man; or how we can possess free will in the face of divine omniscience. One could cite countless others.

I remember a discussion with a distant family member when I was working on my book. Now that I think about it, this was almost exactly eleven years ago, in early 2001. Seems like another lifetome!

Although he was a good-natured, rank-and-file flatlander with no religious instruction, he surprised me, in that he immediately "got" some of the more esoteric and orthoparadoxical elements of the book, and why they had to be that way -- for example, the continuity/discontinuity of the chapters, the inspiraling circularity, and most especially the inability of normal cutandry & wideawake language to contain the Mystery.

I remember explaining to him that the "ultimate answer" was analogous to pi, which he again fully appreciated (probably because he was unburdened by preconceptions, whether scientistic or religious).

Pi is quite definitely and unambiguously the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. And yet, it is irreducibly ambiguous and "transmeasurable," so to speak. It's not that you can't measure it, rather, that you can measure it forever without ever reaching

the end

(all quoted material from Theology and Sanity)

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Intolerable Disparity in Spiritual Wealth

When an irresistible force such as you / Meets an old immovable object like me / You can bet just as sure as you live / Somethin's gotta give / Somethin's gotta give / Somethin's gotta give --Francis Albert

When an irrepressible force such as his meets an implacable heart such as ours, the result is what we call a mystery.

And what is a mystery? It is a necessary consequence of the finite's inexorable attempts to contain the infinite. The infinite is the container, the matrix, the womb, symbolized ♀. Obviously, the contained (symbolized ♂) can never contain that which contains it, although Mary came the closest.

But still we try. Which leads to two big mistakes, the first of which is imagining one has succeeded. This obviously occurs in such anti-intellectual doctrines as atheism, metaphysical Darwinism, and scientism, but also in any ideology more generally. An ideologue always imagines his little ♂ can fill the big mamamatrix of ♀.

In the above case, ♀ (the infinite container) is reduced to ♂ (the finite). The opposite error is to elevate ♂ to ♀, which is what many unreflective and unphilosophical religious types do. It's not nearly as damaging as the first error, unless it is backed by state violence, as in the Islamic world. To paraphrase Sheed, it is always possible to be ignorant and virtuous, even if ignorance is not a virtue.

But in either case, whenever ♂ is divorced from ♀ and then assumes state power, the result is hell on earth, whether in the Islamic world or in the atheistic paradises of communism and National Socialism. Obama's form of socialism is just a slow-motion version of the same psychopneumatic pathology.

Speaking of which, I want to call on Sheed's Theology and Sanity to further explicate this felicitous conjunction of finite, infinite, and mystery. I don't remember what he said about it, but I remember being impressed with his clarity. And sanity.

First of all, it is a matter of intellect and the proper functioning thereof (or again, of sanity). It is the task of intellect "to explore Reality and make its home in it." And we all want a happy home.

But I can't think of a time in history when there has been such a disparity in spiritual wealth, with so many Americans living in the undignified hovels constructed in the public education system prick by prick, others living in grand mansions not built by hands over the centuries. This should be intolerable in a democracy.

The problem begins with a deeply anti-intellectual school system that, instead of nurturing the intellect, denies and extinguishes it. Afterwards, upon attaining chronological adulthood, the only task that remains is getting these ciphers to their polling places in order to ratify their masters and wait for their goody bag from the state.

"The result is that when any matter arises which is properly the job of the intellect, then either nothing gets done at all, or else the imagination leaps in and does it instead." This latter is the province of academia and journalism, when these two have devolved to being tools of the state.

Imagination is fine, so long as it knows its subordinate place in the psyche. But if it doesn't know its place, then it easily dominates the intellect. When this occurs, the imagination puffs itself up with an unearned and worthless intellectual pride. You know the type. It's one of the reasons leftists are so annoying.

So, "imagination plays a part in the mind's affairs totally out of proportion to its merits, so out of proportion to its merits... as to suggest some long-standing derangement in man's nature" (Sheed).

One is tempted here to agree with the left that this is a malady that is especially virulent in females, who are so captive to their imaginations that they will fall for the first politician who offers them sex without consequences, whereas white males are somehow immune to their frivolous and imagination-infused appeals to "free" contraception and the like. But this is not what we believe.

Rather, the Fall is general, and there is no exemption for race or gender or class. Furthermore, the temptation is always there, and we must resist imagination's constant attempts to saturate our psychopneumatic space with some kind of finite formula. The "eleventh commandment" of Raccoons is that we are forbidden under any circumstance to deepak the chopra.

Now, God, the infinite, is unimaginable. This is axiomatic, and if people could just remember it (i.e., the Second Commandment), it would keep them out of a lot of trouble. This includes atheists, who, when they "disprove" their idea of God, imagine they have disproved the unimaginable. But this is impossible, obviously.

However, to say that God is unimaginable is not to say he is inconceivable.

Here again is where the intellect comes in, because the intellect routinely deals with unimaginable realities that are nevertheless conceivable, such as the square root of negative one, or the unvisualizable world of quantum physics, or the big bang. If these evoke a picture in your head, the picture is wrong, just a displacement from the ponderable world of matter.

Thus, "to complain that a spiritual thing is unimaginable would be like complaining that the air is invisible." Air is merely "beyond the reach of one particular sense, namely sight, because it lacks color." And "Spirit is beyond the reach of all the senses (and so of imagination) because it lacks all material qualities" (Sheed).

However, like the wind, you can certainly see, or feel, or hear, the effects of the spirit, i.e., the windy siddhis.

So: "the reality of any spiritual statement must be tested by the intellect, not by the imagination." Yes: test those spirits! For many of them are just demons, zombies, wannabes, professors, etc.

Sheed makes an important point about faith, that it essentially asks us to accept certain saving truths that an intellect "grown flabby with disuse" might be inclined to reject: "Thinking is very hard, and imagining is very easy, and we are very lazy. We have fallen into the habit of using imagination as a crutch, and our intellects have almost lost the habit of walking" (Sheed).

But once you begin engaging in your daily verticalesthenics and gymnostics, you start to lose the flab. And "once the intellect is doing its own work properly, it can use the imagination most fruitfully; and the imagination will find new joy in the service of a vital intellect" (ibid.).

Then, brother, you've got a happy home in your head, with a harmonious and swingin' relationship between ♂ to ♀.

Fight fight fight it with all of your might / Chances are that some heavenly star-spangled night / We'll find out just as sure as we live / Somethin's gotta give / Somethin's gotta give / Somethin's gotta give

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

I Pledge Adherence to the Flight into the United Space of Amorica

What do you call an animal who breaks into the luminous space of transcendentality through which he then actualizes his spiritual essence in time?

Hmm. How about Adam?

To paraphrase Rahner, this is a dynamic transcendentality which doesn't merely exist but takes place. Thus, the God <--> man encounter is an event; this event not only requires history to play out, but ultimately is what we call history.

This is an important consideration if we are to exercise due diligence and examine Christianity all the way down to the foundations, because "something historical" -- since it is relative and fleeting -- "seems by definition incapable of making absolute claims of any kind" (ibid.).

Furthermore, "if the whole history of creation is already borne by God's self-communication in this very creation, then there does not seem to be anything else which can take place on God's part" (ibid.).

You know, I created this endlessly fascinating cosmos, I brought you into existence from nothing, I gave you a mind and a conscience and women and grog. What else do you want from me? Immortality?

Well, now that you mention it...

Clearly, history itself is the history of transcendentality, which is why animals have no history. Rather, they have only genes. Which is what evolutionary psychologists and sociobiologists would like us to believe about man.

But in reality, man's discovery of evolution is a part of, and embedded in, his prior transcendentality.

To put it in plain english, our transcendence contains Darwinism. The converse is impossible and quite literally unthinkable, for if we are contained by Darwinism, there is no conceivable exit from that closed løøp, nor would we have any understanding whatsoever of what contains Darwinism, i.e. Spirit. As Petey says, if Truth doesn't exist, man could never know it.

The bottom line is that "wherever we really find a being of absolute transcendence... there we find a man with freedom, with self-determination, and with an immediate boundary with absolute mystery," with O. If you know about O, then you're a man. And if you don't know, or have forgotten or denied O, then you've only sawed off the branch that connects you to reality. Nice work, assoul.

It reminds me a little of being an American citizen. America is the only nation defined by a transcendental ideal, so we don't care if you're black, white, male, female, rich, poor, whatever. If you believe the ideal, then you're in: congratulations, you've exited the wilderness of nature. Let us be the first to welcome you to your bewilderness adventure in history!

(Suffice it to say we're speaking of the ideal here, not the primitive rebarbarization of the reactionary left.)

This is such an important point, because it again goes to the whole project of the left, which cuts at the very root of what man is. It goes lightyears beyond the noisy buzz of politics, all the way down to ʘntology, and beyond!

But at any rate, wherever this transcendentality is absent, "what we call 'man' in a philosophical and Christian and theological sense did not exist, however similar this being may have been in other respects."

Thus, if you're an animal who penetrates into the transcendent -- and so long as you can afford the $1.50 initiation fee -- then we don't care if you have a tusk, a tail, a trunk, or a tree for a house, you're a Raccoon, so you're in. Of course, thus far only a Homo sapiens with a public school diploma fulfills the criteria, but you never know.

To paraphorize G.C. Lichtenberg, the cosmos is a mirror. Therefore, when an ape looks in, no apostle looks out. In fact, trolls who are on the threshold of consciousness will dimly recognize that the same holds true of these posts: when a such a prehuman looks in, no Raccoon looks out. Your inane comments can only confirm this deeper truth.

So, we have a history. And so too does God. We call it "salvation history." Salvation history is the chronicle -- chronos meaning time -- of the ahistorical object (or subject) as it relates to time and history. From our side, it manifests in encounters with the self-revealing God; you could even say that history as such is a necessary artifact of God-consciousness.

In this way -- and only in this way -- history becomes the cure for the problems created by history. At the same time, man attempts to cure the problems created by man in history, but it seems that the only final solution is for God himself to "become the problem," i.e., to incarnate.

Of the latter, Rahner writes that "Not until the full and unsurpassable event of the historical self-objectification of God's self-communication to the world in Jesus Christ do we have an event which... fundamentally and absolutely precludes any historical corruption or any distorted interpretation in the further history of categorical revelation and of false religion."

Theoretically, of course. Man is still free to mess things up.

A housekeeping gnote: our next topic of discussion will be the writings of Luigi Giussani, beginning with The Religious Sense. I mention this because there may be some of you out there who want to participate in a readalong on the cosmic bus. This is one of those rare books which I wanted to reread immediately, which is what I'm now doing, so I probably won't begin posting on it until some time next week.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Obama's a Success, but the Country Died

Are we all done with Karl Rahner? Yes, more or less. I've moved on to a new subject.

However, I don't want to just leave it at that, as if we'd never met. I need some closure. Therefore, a brief wrap-up of Foundations of Christian Faith, if I can manage it. I'll just flip through and hone in on some of the things I highlighted.

"But in reality freedom is first of all the subject's being responsible for himself.... Ultimately he [the subject] does not do something, but does himself."

Freedom is selfhood lived, just as selfhood is freedom lived.

Painful, I know, but imagine an alternate universe with an educational system in which such spiritually healthy attitudes were inculcated from kindergarten on. That's how they do it at my son's private religious school: he knows that every moment confronts him with choices.

As things stand, the left employs a bait-and-switch tactic to rob people of their freedom-slack. For when the state bestows its free stuff upon the grazing 47%, it absolves them of responsibility and thereby disenfreedoms them.

Such a strategy also destroys religion at the root, for "freedom is the capacity for the eternal." In a horizontalized world there is no finality and therefore no meaningful freedom.

In fact, just this weekend I read a quote along these lines by the father of the moonbat educational establishment, John Dewey. For those with ears to hear, his advice is truly demonic:

"To abandon the pursuit of reality and the search for absolute and immutable value can seem like a sacrifice. But this renunciation is the condition for entering upon a vocation of greater vitality," i.e., social control engineered by the benevolent and all-wise state.

This is the very opposite of freedom, and it is why we dread the left. For "Freedom is the event of something eternal," and we are perpetually "forming the eternity which we ourselves are and are becoming."

Nor is freedom conceivable in the absence of God, for to understand freedom is to realize the absolute:

"For wherever there is no such infinite horizon, such an existent is locked up within itself in a definite and intrinsic limitation... and for this reason it is not free either."

No God, no freedom. Simple as. The left doesn't have to murder God directly. Rather, they accomplish the identical goal through the backdoor by simply eroding our freedom.

The leftist lives in hell and naturally wants you to live there as well. What do we mean by this stinkbombast?

Since a "free" rejection of God is nevertheless "based on a transcendental and necessary 'yes' to God in transcendence, and otherwise could not take place," it "entails a free self-destruction of the subject."

In other words, the leftist freely chooses hell for himself, but then imposes it on everyone else. Only he is free to choose, which ultimately results in only the man at the top being truly free.

I'm sure Obama has no idea that the exercise of his fake freedom redounds to the loss of your real freedoms.

This is all strictly orthoparadoxical: "For every 'no' always derives the life which it has from a 'yes,' because the 'no' always becomes intelligible only in light of the 'yes.'" In short, no Yes, no No.

Obviously, an explicit No to God requires an implicit Yes. Same with freedom, truth, and any other transcendental reality: no doesn't really mean no.

Rahner's whole discussion of freedom is in the context of capital G Guilt, and I found it to be quite helpful in that regard.

As it so happens, my study of Rahner was partly motivated by a desire to more deeply understand this whole question of guilt and redemption, for redemption is unnecessary if man isn't Guilty.

But it seems that Guilt and Freedom are necessary partners so long as we exist "outside" paradise, so to speak. We are condemned to freedom, as the existentialists say, and we are bound to misuse it, as Genesis says.

As Rahner expresses it, "a free subject continues to be threatened by himself," and there is no way we can eliminate this permanent threat with some sort of ultimate act, short of suicide.

Which again goes to the left's perversion of this principle: "the Utopian idea that a world functioning in perfect harmony can be created by man himself only leads inevitably to still greater violence and greater cruelty..."

You might say that original sin results in the left's extremely unoriginal solution to it. It works, of course, at the cost of killing the host. You know the old wise crack: "the operation was a success, but the patient died."